Svante Arrhenius and electrolytic dissociation

In 1884, the great Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius in his doctoral dissertation first introduced the world to his famous teaching - electrolytic dissociation. The new theory was so revolutionary that it caused extraordinary twists of fate in the life of this scientist.

In 1884, the great Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius in his doctoral dissertation first introduced the world to his famous teaching - electrolytic dissociation

At first the whole world seemed to take hostilely to his ideas. And the main opponent of the theory of electrolytic dissociation was the teacher S. Arrenius - P. Cleve - at that time a famous chemist and spectroscopist. He had already discovered several lanthanides, but he did not even want to listen to the fact that the compounds could decay in solutions into ions. And when Arrhenius presented Cleves his views on the nature of electrolytic dissociation, he exclaimed with irony and irritation: "What, do you have a new theory? It's very interesting... But this is heresy!" Farewell. "Electrolytic dissociation into ions in solutions occurs as a result of the interaction of the dissolved substance with the solvent; according to spectroscopic methods, this interaction is largely of a chemical nature. Along with the solvating ability of solvent molecules, a certain role in electrolytic dissociation is also played by the macroscopic property of the solvent-its dielectric constant. The classical theory of electrolytic dissociation is based on the assumption of incomplete dissociation of the dissolved substance, characterized by the degree of dissociation, that is, the fraction of the decomposed molecules of the electrolyte. Therefore, we distinguish between weak and strong electrolytes. Weak electrolytes are chemical compounds whose molecules, even in highly dilute solutions, are insignificantly dissociated into ions that are in dynamic equilibrium with undissociated molecules. The weak electrolytes include most organic acids and many organic bases in aqueous and non-aqueous solutions. Strong electrolytes are chemical compounds whose molecules in dilute solutions are almost completely dissociated into ions. The degree of dissociation of such electrolytes is close to 1. Strong electrolytes include many inorganic salts, some inorganic acids and bases in aqueous solutions, and also in solvents with a high dissociative ability.

The first to support Svante Arrhenius was the professor of chemistry at the Riga Polytechnic, Wilhelm Ostwald. Having received a letter from Arrhenius describing the theory of electrolytic dissociation, he was so impressed that he came to her creator in Uppsala. By joint efforts and experimental studies of Svante Arrhenius, Ostwald and Van't Hoff, the theory of electrolytic dissociation quickly spread among chemists.

In 1903, Svante Arrhenius was awarded the Nobel Prize. And then again, the turn of fate, another surprise. It turned out that the reason for receiving this award had to be formulated by Professor Kleve, who so rashly said goodbye to his student.